Artwork delivers message to victims ‘that they matter’



INDIANAPOLIS — Dear Survivor,

We see you. We hear you. We believe you.

Followed by a depiction of the staff of Hermes, the above text appears in a movie-theater-poster-sized painting created by Arielle Moss. The large work depicts a pregnant woman adorned with symbols of nature and balance — and it represents a message important to the Jasper native who created it.

“I think sexual assault survivors, when you’re first coming in and reaching out and asking for help, I think the biggest thing that anyone can do for anyone in that situation is just make them feel like they’re seen, they’re heard and they’re validated,” said Moss, 26. “Because so many survivors have to deal with people questioning them and doubting them, and questioning their validity and their authority.”

Moss’ painting recently placed first in an Indiana University School of Medicine creative arts contest hosted by Finding Inspiration and Resilience in Medicine. The competition is part of an annual convention that addresses the increasing problem of physician burnout by generating conversation on resilience and inspiration.

That contest tasked health professional students to submit an original short story, narrative, visual art project or other creative work that fits a list of criteria related to the future of medicine.

Moss lives in Indianapolis and is a first-year medical student at Marian University.

She said that physicians, nurses and hospital staffers are the first line of response to sexual assault in many ways, bolstering the importance of health care professionals’ connection with victims of sexual assault.

“The bottom line is you need to make someone feel heard and make them feel seen and ultimately just believe their story,” she said. “Because they have to deal with so many other things and they don’t need someone doubting them.”

Moss' painting that placed first in an Indiana University School of Medicine creative arts contest hosted by Finding Inspiration and Resilience in Medicine.

While living in Bloomington, Moss volunteered at the Middle Way House, which is a shelter for women and children escaping situations involving sexual assault and domestic violence. It was there that she became active in raising awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“I think advocacy is what will always kind of drive me to continue on with medicine,” Moss said. “I’m just starting, but I think I’m very passionate about bridging those (things) like access to care gaps ... the prompt of the art competition kind of reminded me of why I’m here and why I want to do this path.”

Moss — who admitted she is not a longtime painter — crafted most of the artwork in one night. The text was added later. The woman in the painting was inspired in part by a victim of sexual assault who Moss interacted with at the Middle Way House.

Through a metaphorical lens, the woman’s body represents Mother Earth. Her lower body is colored like a galaxy of stars and her hair is filled with flecks representative of fireflies, and her enlarged stomach has a yin-yang symbol, which is representative of balance.

Moss said that regardless of who you are or what you do, it’s important to show people that we see and hear them.

“I think everyone in the world, no matter who you are, you want to feel like you are seen,” Moss said. “And you want to feel like you matter. And ... even if you haven’t experienced something like sexual assault or violence like that, I think that if we can all just go out of our way to make anyone around us feel like they matter, I think that’s the main takeaway.”

She concluded: “Obviously, yes, I feel so passionate about sexual assault awareness. But I also just think on a deeper level, we as human beings just need to constantly work on just making everyone around us feel connected and that they matter.”

Arielle is the daughter of Richard and Supit Moss of Jasper.

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